In a prior post I spoke about the value of podcasts for founders. On my favorite podcasts you can hear great origin stories of successful startups, get into the minds of investors, and hear about growth strategies. When thinking about books for founders, I want to recommend some that are going to go deeper and hopefully give you more actionable concepts you can apply to your own company.
I’ll start with three books on business strategy and execution. A great option in this category is Zero To One by Peter Thiel. An OG from the PayPal mafia and now a leading VC, Thiel details how to get your first customers and grow a big business. Another good one is Disciplined Entrepreneurship by Bill Aulet who urges founders to focus on doing a few things right in the early days of a startup. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz is definitely worth a read as well. This founder of A16Z breaks down the challenges of starting and growing businesses in an easy to digest way.
If you want to raise venture capital funding for your business, then you’ll need to understand how investors think. The Secrets of Sand Hill Road by Scott Kupor is a good textbook style read. Not the most exciting book I’ve read, but really digs into the nuts and bolts of VC deal making. Kupor demystifies the VC world, gives you the lingo you’ll need, and works through a term sheet sample. If you want something with more pop, check out Angel by Jason Calacanis. It’s a fast read with a lot of stories about businesses that were funded by this leading early stage investor.
If you are successful at building a big company, eventually you will need to get good at managing a big team of people. Show some confidence in yourself and maybe pick a classic book on management. When I was running bigger groups, I got a lot out of Winning by Jack Welch and Good to Great by Jim Collins. Another classic is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Even though these books are more focused on big company managers, they have gems that can be applied to even a five person startup for sure.
Thanks for reading today’s post. Great founders need to be lifelong learners so I hope this gives you some food for thought.